Let Me Enjoy Taylor Swift in Peace (or stop stealing people\'s joy)

I’ve been doing a lot of enthusiastic tweeting about things I love lately. This in itself is not unusual, after all if nothing else what is Twitter for than foisting your unsolicited opinions on people? 

It’s also not entirely my fault, I had a book announced, and a Crowd Funder to promote, so my Schitt’s Creek tweeting levelling up wasn’t my fault. And then Taylor Swift released her version of Fearless and what kind of self-respecting Queer Millenial Woman would I be if I didn’t dedicate adequate airtime to that boss move.

But also, why do we feel the need to sap other people’s joy? I often think of the words of that other pop-country icon Sheryl Crow at times like this ‘if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad’ but of course there is nothing people like better than sapping joy. 

Please check out this 90s classic if you aren\’t familiar

It seems whatever people show a passion for someone will find a way to try and ruin. To stick with the Swift example, of course, we Swifties know Taylor’s brand of pop-country isn’t musically for everyone. In the same way, Death-Metal isn’t for everyone. The difference being most Taylor Swift fans aren’t deliberately seeking out Death-Metal fans to tell them how awful their taste in music is (in their opinion) they’re just letting Death-Metal fans listen to their music, while they dance it out to ‘Mr Pefectly Fine\’ (which is, a total bop, and I\’m not saying that Jonas didn\’t deserve it but I\’m not not saying it)

Of course, some of it comes from a place of intellectual or taste superiority. The idea that liking something like Taylor Swift is just so lowbrow or ‘basic’ (is it basic to say basic now?). Or the idea that it isn’t ‘professional’ to be seen as being enthusiastic about a thing. Of course, locked up in that is a whole mess of things about the performative nature of Social Media, but let’s not get into that here. What really we’re talking about is a kind of person who just likes to sap joy. 

We all know them, the ones who see ‘culture’ as only a performative reflection of who they are, and not something to be actually enjoyed. The ones who wouldn’t dare to admit to anything less than a subscription to BFI Player and a lockdown playlist of obscure Indie Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard Of. Or that cool show everyone loves? I totally over it because they watched it first. And, ugh are you really still watching Friends on Netflix? Yes because it’s comforting to watch something familiar while the world burns, also it’s funny, and I’d like a laugh right now (sidebar, as humans we are actually capable of recognising something’s problematic elements while also enjoying other parts) 

these people raised me Ross is still The Worst 

Don’t you dare mention reality TV to them, they won’t even watch it ironically and they’ll drag you over the coals or even stop speaking to you if you do (yes, this actually happened, someone no longer speaks to me because I watched Queer Eye). Look the truth is I got VERY (very) invested in Married at First Sight Australia this year, and let me tell you it was a joy. One of my weekly highlights is watching Gogglebox with a very large gin. And obviously, the joy suckers will tell you all reality TV is trash, but as someone from ‘First Generation’ reality TV of the 90s and 00s I would argue that the right kind- the non-exploitative kind, is harmless telly fluff. And sorry but the year we\’ve all had surely watching some people go on awkward dates is the escapism we all deserve?

Cam and Jules, if you know you know

If the Joy Suckers can\’t cope with my MAFS love, just wait until they hear about my penchant for watching Sorority Recruitment videos on YouTube, or mid-level YouTubers ‘Week in the Life’ oh my God what if they hear I have watched many a Zoella video? 

The thing is I unironically love many things that aren’t ‘cool’ or ‘high brow’. 

I cannot tell you the number of glossy teen dramas I will still watch. Or things were equally glossy twenty-somethings have impossibly glamorous careers in New York, despite the fact I am neither glamorous or a twenty-something. What can I tell you I’m the Friends and the Sex and the City generation and I was raised by this nonsense…But I KNOW it’s nonsense, and that’s what the Joy Suckers hate right? They want people like me to think I’m enjoying quality high brow stuff and judge me for it. 

I’ve got news for the Joy Suckers…it’s perfectly fine to watch both Normal People and Zero Chill (terrible Netflix Ice-Skating Drama, check it out, it’s terrible) and understand that quality-wise these are not the same…but enjoy them still for different reasons.

90s haircuts and hockey? I am SOLD. 

It’s the same way that I know Sunday in the Park with George isn’t musically the same quality as Bat Out of Hell: The Musical but I can have a good time at both. I constantly tell my writing students of my lowbrow tastes, I feel they judge me, but you know what, I\’m just as influenced by the low brow as the high brow.

This musical was terrible. I had a lovely time. 

It just makes me wonder, what joy people have from stealing other people’s joy? Personally, I find utter joy in someone being oh-so-nerdy about a thing. Obviously, I love finding people nerdy about a thing I love, so we can nerd together. But also there is nothing more attractive (in a platonic and romantic sense) than someone with PASSION for something in a fully nerdy way. 

But people really love to hate on your passions too, don’t they? 

I don’t need my friends to all have the same interests as me- far from it life would be boring without. I love when friends are passionate, even dorky about things, tell me all the things about the thing you love! For example, my friend Martyn is a passionate knitter and a recent sewing enthusiast. Anyone who knows me knows I do not have a crafty bone in my body, but I am here for hearing about knitting projects and seeing works in progress, and occasionally being a knitting photoshoot coordinator.

(please subscribe to Martyn\’s Youtube channel) 

Similarly, I have zero interest in sports as a rule but if someone is passionate about their team, their sport and wants to chat I’m here for it. I might just learn something and I love learning things! 

What I hate however is what I call ‘performative passion’ which seems to be a thing for the kinds of Joy Suckers I’m talking about too- they’ll like the ‘acceptable’ things, or things they think will make them look good- Cricket, certain plays, high brow music, be seen with the right books on the bus…but none of it goes beyond a surface level. And isn’t that sad? 

But the real passion is frowned on by these sorts. 

Increasingly, I’m seeing the narrative of ‘you can’t be seen to be doing that, it\’s ‘unprofessional’’. Now obviously we’re all aware there’s a line of what is or isn’t acceptable to share on social media, but the idea that it’s somehow ‘unprofessional’ to profess a love for a musician? A TV show? This is ridiculous. I have had these conversations with people that ‘Oh I can’t believe you would share that I would never it would impact my image/career.’ Honestly, if your image is more important than sharing some Taylor Swift love, have a word with yourself. (I mean unless your career is being John Mayer’s PA then maybe keep that to yourself) 

Maybe like the TV show not the label?

Obviously, there are exceptions, I would not, for example, recommend professing your love for a certain Harry Potter author personally, and publicly, or perhaps a certain candidate for Mayor of London. But we’re not really talking ‘your faves are problematic’ here are we? We’re talking Joy Sucking. 

But also, dare I say it, outright snobbery for what isn\’t considered \’cool\’ or \’good enough\’. But also those certain things (TV, film general nerding about things that aren\’t sports) aren\’t considered things that you should take \’seriously\’. And that really gets my goat.

My Goat that has been got. 

This is not a new observation obviously. Fans are used to the idea that being passionate about things like TV, film or comic books, even theatre fans, that it\’s a \’silly thing\’ that is a pat-on-the-head \’that\’s cute\’ but take it step further and you\’re \’weird\’ and \’why are you so obsessed with this\’. Those frivolous things should be taken seriously is a bigger debate than this, but you would think, the year we\’ve just had, people would see the value in the joy.

But also as a person who yes, thinks about things too much, and yes, makes these things part of their work, this refusal to give things that spark joy the recognition they deserve- but worse than that, people who pass judgement on them and people who love them- really really actually hurts.

Case in (professional) point, I talk about Fan Fiction often when teaching- I talk about it as a Queer response to media, I talk about it as a creative outlet. In teaching recently a student basically rolled their eyes and then left my workshop shortly after. I don\’t know that the two are connected but I can guess. And for sure Fan Fiction isn\’t everyone\’s bag, but neither is Harold Pinter and you wouldn\’t leave a class if someone mentioned him? (well actually…). The point is, I feel like my use of Fan Fiction as an example was used as a judgement on my quality as a teacher and a human. First of all I can give you whole essays on why Fan Fiction is important- I just took part in a dissertation study on that very topic, whole books exist on it also. My own blog on it here goes into more detail. But even if we\’re just talking about Fic as Joy…it\’s one of the few things that has brought me true joy this last year. I\’m clinging onto one Fic I\’m writing like a life raft right now, and I shouldn\’t feel ashamed to admit that out loud because of some Joy Suckers and their snobbery.

Lately my love for \’silly things\’ has been at the forefront with the announcement of my book on Schitt\’s Creek, and with it, a feeling that yes actually people are judging me a bit for my love of \’silly things\’ and a revelation that, actually I\’m really, really done with the Joy Suckers.
The launch of that book was actually a real revelation about who is on my wavelength, and who surprisingly sometimes that was, and also who the real friends who celebrate your wins even when they don\’t fully share the same love for the thing.

I don\’t expect any of my friends to buy the damn book, I don\’t expect anyone to part with hard-earned cash for something I\’ve made. But my god was it a joy when people sometimes really surprising people from my life did. I had more than one cry seeing someone\’s name come up on the list of backers. My utter favourites were people who hadn\’t even seen the show but who went \’But you love it so I\’m going to buy the book and watch the show.\’ for those ones I really cried. On top of that lots of fans of the show too have found me, chatted with me, and I feel like I\’ve already made some new friends from it, and people who share my not just joy, passion for something.

Look, I know I get interested to things to an extreme degree. I did a PhD for goodness sake, that’s the textbook definition of being excessively interested in things that interest you. And of course, I don’t give ‘lectures’ on things I’m nerdy about to people who don’t want to hear it. Of course, I save the extreme niche nerdy facts for friends who want it (the exactly two people I knew would appreciate my Greys Anatomy/Schitt’s Creek crossover nerdy information, for example, heard about it, nobody else needed to). I have friends, who while not interested specifically, like me like hearing nerdy things, and so they get chapter and verse of the latest nerding if they ask for it. 

this is my Greys/Schitt\’s crossover, if you know you know 

I can’t tell you how much I longed to get a message from friends saying ‘Well done you wrote a book.’ and honestly? As much as I know we’re in a pandemic and we’ve got shit going on, if someone I consider a good friend writes a book I’m taking time to leave a comment, send a message and say well done. 

And really, well that says something about those friends. 

This was brought home to me recently, very recently at the weekend, I had a dorky thing happen that was a big deal to me and it got me thinking about how those people who don’t celebrate the things you love with you, however small, however ‘silly’ aren’t worth your time. 

I’m going to bring it around to Schitt’s Creek because actually, it’s David’s New York friends, isn’t it? For those who don’t know, David has a group of friends from his former life in New York, to who he is desperate to prove he ‘isn’t a joke to. Desperate to impress. One of the biggest lessons David learns is he doesn’t need those people’s approval to prove anything. 

if this picture makes you cry too I\’m sorry

And that’s one of the lessons I’m choosing to learn here. Am I hurt that some people I considered ‘good friends’ think my ‘silly little interests’ aren’t worthy of acknowledgement? Even when they turn into something concrete and important to my life? Of course, I’m human. I can’t say otherwise. But I’m done with trying to impress them. I have so many people in my life who did celebrate the win with me, and who also commiserate the losses too. Those people who matter. The people who see the ‘little things’ for the huge things they are to you. 

Beyond the ‘wins’ too, I’m not putting up with people who put down the things I love. Nobody has to share my love of things but back in the summer I was having a coffee with someone (remember when we could do that? No me either) and I caught myself moderating my enthusiasm for something, I caught myself editing myself, ‘don’t talk about that they’ll think you’re stupid’ I thought…I didn’t let myself say ‘I love this thing’ because I worried they’d judge me….and you know what? I’m done editing my joy.

be as joyous as a Brewer-Rose combo watching the game

If you want to pre-order my book \’Love the Journey for Me: the Queer Revolution of Schitt\’s Creek\’ you can do that here

For my previous blogs on Schit\’s Creek, and a lot of nerdy joy, you can read the following:
Love that Journey for Me: Why I\’m finally writing about Schitt\’s Creek 
\’Just Pretentious Enough; why this show matters to me\’
How I Accidentally Wrote a book on Schitt\’s Creek instead of Angels
Hold On: How Noah Reid\’s Music got me through 

Now go and dance it out to Taylor Swift…

Published by Emily Garside

Academic, journalist and playwright. My PhD was on theatrical responses to the AIDS epidemic, and I continue to write on Queer theatrical history. Professional nerd of all things theatre.

One thought on “Let Me Enjoy Taylor Swift in Peace (or stop stealing people\'s joy)

  1. Well Fearless (Taylor's Version) has been playing as I read this and I would like to say that I agree with everything and I am indeed dancing it out (albeit in my seat).


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